Racial discrimination and diversity in Canada
By: Elie Ngoy
Published on: September 6 2022
Diversity has played a significant part in shaping Canada’s history. Canada has the greatest proportion of foreign-born citizens of any G8 country. With approximately 401 000 entrants joining the nation in 2021, Canada will have embraced a historic number of immigrants since 1913. By welcoming immigrants, Canada has established a community of various languages, cultures, and faiths.
The diversity of Canada’s populace is predicted to grow much more, particularly in big urban areas. According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, 25 to 28 per cent of people will be foreign-born, and 29 to 32 per cent will be members of a visible minority group. Visible minorities are predicted to make up 63 per cent of the demographic in Toronto, 59 per cent in Vancouver, and 31 per cent in Montréal.
There are robust human rights laws and institutions in Canada to combat prejudice. However, there is also a history of racism, especially against Aboriginal people, but also against African, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Jewish, and Muslim Canadians. This legacy continues to impact our institutions and structures, hurting the lives of racial minorities and all Canadians.
What the numbers say
The 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety found that discrimination was much more prevalent among Indigenous peoples than non-Indigenous or non-visible minority peoples (33 per cent versus 16 per cent).
More precisely, 44 per cent of First Nations people, 24 per cent of Métis, and 29 per cent of Inuit had experienced prejudice in the five years before the study.
According to GSS data, a much larger percentage of Black persons reported prejudice in 2019 than in 2014 (46 per cent versus 28 per cent).
Four in ten (41 per cent) of all Black people have experienced prejudice based on their race or skin colour, which is around 15 times greater than the percentage of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority individuals (three per cent)
Among those who encountered bigotry, 21 per cent of Indigenous people and 16 per cent of Black people stated it occurred while interacting with police, compared to four per cent of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority individuals.
How do you address racism and xenophobia?
The issue of racism in Canada is deep-rooted but has improved over time. To effectively address racism, it is essential to understand the situation, where it comes from, and how it affects our lives. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Canadian identity, and though the plague of racism has hampered us, the improvements have been steady.
The government of Canada has spent many years building a consensus foundation for change, which has required it to acknowledge its shortcomings as well. Many newcomers are from communities that face deep systemic racism and discrimination in our country. Recent events, such as the truck attack in London, Ontario, have shown that even here in Canada, no community is safe from hateful rhetoric.
Over the years, the Canadian government has begun to apply an intersectional lens on the issue, allowing us to see how deep this issue goes correctly. Between 2018 and 2019, the government held engagement sessions across the country to gather input from all Canadians, including newcomers, to assist in forming a new anti-racism development strategy.
Psychological research shows that racist attitudes are learned. Much work is still left to be done to assist those in need of support. How can you deal with racism in your new communities?
Here are some suggestions:
- Stay calm and react calmly
It’s okay to show that you are uncomfortable and disapprove of how you have been treated — people must know that they have hurt you. Always feel free to convey your feelings and question their use of words and actions. Never try to get triggered—stay calm and let it go.
- React towards the issue, not the person
Racism says a lot about how a person was raised, where they attended school, status, and what influences they had as a child. Avoid confrontation and be attentive to the words you hear.
- Be the opposite
When they go low, we go high. When confronted with racism or xenophobic remarks, sometimes the best thing to do is be the bigger person. This can mean anything from not responding to attacks on you, not giving the same reaction, or remaining cheerful as they spew negativity. This can be a great learning moment if they are willing to listen
- Expect ignorance
As a newcomer, you must know that Canada is a culture of many races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Many Canadians may not know much about where you come from, your country, or what language you speak. To save yourself the stress, it is best to assume that there is a chance you may be mistreated.
- Do not be afraid to engage the authorities.
If you have been a victim of unwarranted racial abuse or xenophobic attacks, you are well within your rights to get the police or authorities at work involved. Do not be afraid to speak up when you are wrong; it is your right, and you should do so. As a newcomer, you deserve to feel safe in your new country.
- Be kind.
Sometimes being kind is the most fantastic way to combat evil. Please treat everyone with respect and do not feel like you owe anyone a reaction or anything. It’s highly possible, and it’s expected that you would want to speak out, be upset, and maybe even lash out. However, do not give attention to the things that do not serve you in the long run. Some individuals are highly committed to misunderstanding you, and that’s a significant issue.
You are not obligated to endure any type of harassment. If you have encountered racism and bigotry, you should take the following steps. You could wish to communicate with the individual if you feel comfortable doing so. If you do not feel comfortable facing the individual, talk with someone in charge, such as a supervisor. If you are in urgent bodily danger, dial 911.
If this occurs at work, you should talk to your boss or the Human Resource manager about it. If this occurred at the workplace, when you were accessing services, or if you suspect it was a hate crime, you should report it to The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). You might call the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth if someone committed a racist act towards your kid or if it happened at their school.
If you have encountered racism and bigotry, you may wish to seek help from others. Racism and bigotry are seldom isolated incidents, and many individuals in your community can assist you in adjusting, feeling secure, and speaking out against racism in Canada. Canada is and will always remain a country that welcomes others. It is a beautiful land where dreams come true.